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Should You Parent Girls and Boys Differently?

How should parents raise boys and girls differently

This is somewhat of a loaded question and if you lean too far to one side or the other you're bound to offend someone. It's quite fortunate then, that like most of life the answer isn't completely black and white. Should you parent boys and girls differently? Yes and no. Boys need to be raised in a nurturing environment, something that baby girls tend to get a much larger dose of.

We also need to be cognizant of the difference in hormone levels between even babies of different genders. Today we will break down some of the key physiological differences between baby boys and baby girls, and how those differences should influence parenting. There is also the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture which we will inevitably need to delve into as well, so without further delay let's get started!

Regardless of which sex your child is, they might need some help fighting stinky feet! Luckily Silly Feet can provide a bubblegum scented foot deodorizer, or a grape scented foot deodorizer spray to help ward off the smelly feet that effects everyone in equal measure.

Should You Parent Girls and Boys Differently? children siblings

Newborn Natures

Scientific studies have noted some significant differences between boys and girls. These differences can be observed even in newborns. Newborn girls tend to hold eye contact with other people, while newborn boys will stare just as intently at a ceiling lamp. It's believed that girls reach initial developmental milestones earlier than boys. Young girls will develop hand-eye coordination more quickly, and learn to better control their emotions than their male counterparts.

The reason for this is simple. It all comes down to hormones. Baby boys have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of serotonin. This causes them to become stressed more easily and their ability to self-soothe is severely diminished. Obviously these hormonal differences also account for the sometimes more aggressive behavior of little boys. My two-year-old son competes with his cousin for play space much more than his sister did with a female cousin of about equal age.

Nature of Language

It's also interesting to note the language differences between boys and girls. Little girls develop language skills quicker and as a result, they use words almost exclusively. Boys are much more prone to imitate noises and sounds as much as 40% of the time. This can make it much harder to communicate with your little boy, but keeping communication open and attempting to understand is equally important for both sexes.

Should You Parent Girls and Boys Differently? sibling kids

Playground Differences

Another significant difference between boys and girls is their chosen method of play. Boys tend to compete in large groups, favoring structured games that have a scoring system of some kind. Girls tend to play in smaller groups of two to four. Female play tends to center around relationships. Everyone gets a turn, and failure is nothing to be ashamed of. This draws a strong parallel with the earlier differences we've noted. Boys tend to be competitive while girls are more social.

Differences During Maturation

The older children get, the more pronounced the differences between boys and girls tends to become. Teenage girls might experience more stressors than teenage boys due to the strong emphasis on social relationships. For example, if a teenage couple breaks up the girl is much more likely to obsess over it while the boy tends to simply distract himself with an activity until the situation passes. As usual, you'll need to make a concerted effort in order to keep lines of communication open with your little boys.

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Nurturing Children

Parenting makes just as much of a difference as nature does, maybe even slightly more in my personal view. Boys receive less affection when they make a mistake or hurt themselves and are allowed to roughhouse much harder than girls. Most parents will just shrug and say 'boys will be boys'. You might think this will build a tougher son, but the fact is that children who don't receive proper emotional support can experience serious mental and developmental issues.

Parents are far more likely to coo and coddle a baby girl. Females are read bedtime stories at a much higher rate, which might account for the earlier development of verbal skills among young girls. In contrast to the point of boys being left alone to struggle, parents will ride much quicker to a baby girl's defense which can cripple confidence and self-sufficiency. Like most things in life, a fine balance must be struck.

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Classroom Nurture

Girls seem to have an advantage in structured classes due to the higher degree of language comprehension. There are many classrooms that have replaced a free-play recess with structured activities where 'everyone is a winner'. While this is helpful to girls, studies have shown that many boys can turn aggressive and frustrated in these competition-free settings.

'Single-sex' classrooms are an ongoing experiment that has mixed results. There is a strong discrepancy between boys strengths in science and math, and the girls proclivity for reading and language arts. This can allow children to focus on their strengths, but generally means creating a less-rounded individual which doesn't do society any favors.

You can help round your child out through smart implementation of educational toys for toddlers!

Final Thoughts

All of the greatest parenting techniques focus on a mix of nature and nurture based of gender differences between boys and girls. Both need to be taught compassion, respect, and confidence. Consequences for acting out should be the same for both sexes, but it would behoove everyone involved to recognize that everyone regardless of gender has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of those differences, every child deserves to be raised in an affectionate and supportive environment with all of the unconditional love in the world.


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